Chapter 1

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Through the quiet streets of Hood River, Oregon, Julia Baker was driving on her way home from work. As a schoolteacher, it was uncommon for her to leave at such a late time, but time flew past whilst she was grading papers, finding herself driving through the dark streets, the only source of light coming from her headlights. Her favorite station was blaring through the car and she was singing completely out of tune along with the song.

A loud popping sound was heard over the music and Julia immediately braked in shock, hitting her head on the steering wheel in the process. She rubbed her throbbing forehead and steadily made her way out of the car. The clinking of her boots against the cemented road and her car's running engine was the only thing that could be heard. She gazed at her surroundings but could only see as far as the headlights would allow.

A few feet away, she heard the rumbling of bushes and squinted her eyes to try and catch sight of the cause, and suddenly spotted a dark silhouette stirring behind a large shrub. She stepped closer and as her boots hit the gravel, the silhouette stopped moving and Julia froze in her tracks.

"Hello, who's there?" She called out followed by an echo, but the silhouette didn't move an inch. "I won't hurt you!" She called out again and took a cautious step closer, and another cautious step and another.

The unexpected noise of her car alarm set Julia into panic, causing her to let out an ear-piercing wail. She turned to her car and spotted nothing other than the incessant blinking of the headlights and the infuriating noise of the alarm. Once she regained her composure, she turned back to the silhouette, but it was nowhere in sight.

"Hello?" Julia asked and took another cautious step towards the woods, until she had reached the shrub.

She took a shaky breath before pushing leaves aside, but nothing – or no one – was behind the bush anymore. Julia shook off her crazy thoughts and told herself she was just imagining things; nothing can escape that fast or that silently.

She trudged back to her car and shut off the infuriating alarm and reached for her cellphone when, through the silence, she heard someone call her name. She stuck her head out of the passenger side of the car trying to figure out where the noise was coming from.

"Julia." She heard the sound again, but it sounded like it was coming from the other direction.

She turned to her left but couldn't see anything.

"Who is out there, and how do you know my name?" She called out and gripped her phone tighter.

She waited for a reply, or movement, or anything, but she got nothing. She unlocked her phone and started to call her husband when she heard the voice again.


"This isn't funny anymore!" She called out, there was as much anger as there was fear in her voice. "I'll call the police!"

She heard humorless laughter that echoed throughout the noiseless street, like the wind was blowing the sound through her ears. The hairs on the nape of her neck started to rise and it wasn't from the cold breeze that was starting to kick in. Julia heard footsteps behind her and spun around with a gasp that caught in her throat, but the road was vacant.

Having decided she had enough of the situation, she turned back to enter her car but what she saw gazing into her eyes a few feet away caused an intense blood-curdling scream to escape her clutches.


A few towns over police vehicles and ambulances littered the streets, their lights shining into the homes of the nearby houses waking up almost the entire neighborhood. Soon, everyone gathered around, and animated chatter ensued. It's very uncommon for police vehicles to be congregated in this town, and it was even more uncommon for it to be happening at three in the morning.

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